That’s Gonna Leave A Mark — How A Faulty Citibike Almost Resulted In A Sliced Tendon *UPDATED*

Aaron Tsuru
Aug 11, 2016 · 4 min read
Watercolor & Illustration by Aaron Tsuru

November 13, 2015: After a lovely lunch date in Chelsea with Meghan where we checked out some amazing art and grabbed a couple burgers, I hopped on the citibike to make my way back to work, finish up a long week, and get ready for our anniversary weekend (10 years together, 8 years married).

I citibike to our lunch dates because it literally takes me 6–7 minutes to get across town vs. 20–25 on a train or walking. On the way back, I was at a red light at 9th ave. It turned green and I stood up to get some gumption and get moving. Just as I got across the avenue, the gear slipped (as can happen on a poorly maintained bike), the pedal spun forward, and my feet flew out.

My left foot hit the pavement as my body fell forward. The pedal then smashed into my ankle as I held onto the handlebars, braking, trying to stay upright.

I finally stopped. I was hurting, but initially I was mostly just shaken up. A truck pulled up and asked if I was okay (side note: a cyclist who was with me at the light passed me without saying a word).

“I’m fine, I think I’m okay.” I said to the truck. They asked if I was sure and I said yeah, I’ll be okay, and they drove off.

There was a citibike station across the street so I tried to walk the bike to it and realized it hurt way too much to walk. I was still four NYC long blocks away from work, so I decided to ride to work on the citibike. Focusing on my right foot to pedal.

I docked the bike and limped a few short blocks to work. I knew I was bleeding some, so I went to the first aid kit and headed to the bathroom to wrap up.. I pulled the sock down and saw a pool of dark blood sitting in the largest gash I have ever seen in real life.

As you can imagine, it was alarming.

I wrapped it up the best I could and told my boss and co-workers I needed to go to urgent care.

There was one about 4 short blocks away, so I limped over to it elbowing people along the way who would not watch where they were going (no fucks given at this point).

The City MD walk-in urgent care people were very nice. Flushed it out, numbed it up, gave me 7 big ol’ Frankenstein stitches and I headed back to work. The gash pain was gone due to the anesthetic, but it still felt like someone smacked the back of my ankle with a bat.

So I took some tylenol, said adieu, grabbed my stuff, hailed an Uber back to Brooklyn and painted my foot, pre-stitches, the scan of which leads this story.

So now it’s our anniversary weekend and we are about to go to a couples spa treatment. Can’t get my foot in the hot tub, so this is quickly going from “romantic” weekend to “romantic-comedy” weekend… but we’ll make due.

The big question is… how do I get my bike that I left at Sid’s bike shop to get tuned back to Brooklyn on Monday?

*UPDATE: August 11, 2016*

It has been nine months since the accident. Yes, the romantic weekend was a bit less romantic and a lot more comedy than planned. It took me a month before I could ride a bike again (with a heavily wrapped ankle) and quite a few months after that before I could run again. I get some numbness in my toes in my left foot, but it’s slowly getting better.

My ankle has a scar on it that always seems to be affected with dry skin. I treat it with neosporin. Other than that my ankle, running, riding, etc, is, for the most part, all back to normal.

What was most interesting was the response from Citibike when I reported the incident. I filled out the forms and repeated wrote them over the first few months asking them what they were going to do? Would they provide compensation for the faulty bike and my medical bills? Would they do a free membership renewal as a “I’m sorry” gesture? Or hell, would they simply promise to do better job keeping the bikes maintained? I’m a very experienced cyclist, I imagine someone new on the bike might not have fared so well.

Each time I wrote, and it was many, I was given the reply that they would escalate it to their manager who would contact me as soon as possible. After a couple weeks would go by, I would check in, only to be given the same runaround.

No one ever contacted me. Eventually I gave up.

I love Citibikes, I find them extremely useful, and I still ride them, albeit with my ass firmly planted on the saddle as I still get the occasional “Shittybike”. But the moral of my tale is, know that when you stick your key fob in a dock and pull that bike out of it’s home, when you get out on the road, feeling the wind hit you as you push that 40lb behemoth around the streets of NYC, that if something goes wrong, you are completely on your own.

Aaron Tsuru

Aaron Tsuru

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normalizing reality through art & occasionally writing about stuff. music: fairy eyelashes - pansexual enby: they/them https://www.patreon.com/tsuru

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